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Robert Dalzell Education. (2013) 'The Good Rich and What They Cost Us.' New.

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TOPIC FREQUENCY

Us 10, Washington 9, Steve 3, John D. Rockefeller 3, United States 2, New York City 2, Dr. King 2, Warren Buffett 1, Frank Easterbrook 1, Denney 1, Keith 1, Demonstrateble High Unequality 1, Warren 1, Rockefeller Washingtonian 1, Bain 1, Rsion 1, Gallup 1, Explapped 1, Barack Obama 1, Bob 1,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Robert Dalzell  Education.  (2013) 'The  
   Good Rich and What They Cost Us.' New.  

    March 24, 2013
    6:45 - 7:44pm EDT  

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that group has lost more jobs than there were in 1997 meant. why hasn't and all of the jobs being recovered or being taken by people 55 and older. the recovery of the fact that young people have no opportunities today are not finding jobs and not recovering the jobs lost and moving ahead that is an enormous story that is completely missed during that election and there is no reason we should have been the only ones to see it.
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mike >> good afternoon. not so long ago i had a knee replacement which some of you will know something about that promised me that it would be a full recovery after a year. what better i don't have to wait two years. so, it is also likely to be out of the cold and the wind of new york city for a while. i woke up this morning feeling as if my knee was all better.
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it's the second time that i've spoken here and my wife and i spoke to get the last time because we had written a book together and this 1i wrote all by myself alone after two co-authored books was a new and novel experience. with that am i and -- in mind this morning we have asked which of the various ways, and i named them i should use to start to talk with one of the most telling a story ought.
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it for the richest american who's ever lived, his fortune in contemporary moderate dollars, a conservative estimate was $190 million. now this takes poor bill gates and warren buffett who have 30 or 40 or $50 million puts them in the shade. washington was also an interesting character because as the president of the united states he was the richest president that we have ever had. but i want to talk about rockefeller, and talk about rockefeller's death because it wasn't quite what he was hoping to get he hoped he would live to
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be 100 he made it to 97. how they were going to play him to rest, this very rich man. his favorite place was right here in florida and that is where he spent most of his final years. so there was a small surface here and denney was taken in a casket to his home on the shores of the hudson river. it was a far grander place than he wanted it to be but nevertheless, he did spend time there and so there was a service there with organs playing softly in the music room and after that he was loaded on that train again to be taken to cleveland ohio where he began his business
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career and he was buried next to his mother and his wife and i am not sure within the family considerable discussion about how they were going to as it were memorialize the site but what they were going to do is build a very large version of the washington rsion of the washington monument to read was rockefeller washingtonian? i wouldn't have said so and i don't think that he would have said so, but i think that his family were happy sinking so so this is what he got as the memorial and it stands on a kind of platform where you have to go up and down the steps to get to a. one of the things he did in his
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like towards the end was to hand out to anybody who was anywhere near him but mostly children, shiny new dimes, and this was something that endeared him to his fellow countrymen. ied lee was headed towards the public relations director has credited with having the idea to do this, but it was actually a book that rockefeller had read all the correspondence of amos lawrence, another character in the book. so there was this whole tradition of the shiny dimes. well, if you go to that site with to this day you will find people bring shiny dimes and leave them on the stairs, which i think is a marvelous tribute
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to something or other. [laughter] i think it's fascinating to ruminate on that subject, and and a sense the book that i've written is one that finds its heart in those kind of issues, issues involving what? well, issues involving very rich people. the legends that they construct about themselves, and particularly their generosity, and about the american people and how we have collectively responded to those individuals and their lives and their money and their generosity and the story is that they construct about themselves which is a lot
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to do and what is a fairly short but. i'm going to go further by explaining just a little bit about how the book came to be written because it is a odd story but i set out to write a short book to the other books i've written were not hugely long. i was going to write a book and was going to have a series of chapters on most the people that i had written about before, and they had these characteristics and experiences in common. they were very rich and all among the richest americans of their day. they anchored their fellow countrymen some of them all whole lot in the process of becoming rich.
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the third thing they have in common is they were generous with their money. they gave billions of dollars away to make the world a better place. the question is how these people made their money, how they live their lives. why they decided to be as philanthropic as they were. those were a series of questions that i thought could use foley be asked about these lives. the first surprise me when you put the lives next to one another they did have the things i mentioned in common. but there were a lot of things that they didn't have a common. they made their money in different ways. they began giving it away at
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different points in their lives. they gave to quite different things. it wasn't a pattern that was very far beneath the surface. there was a wealth of fact lobbying beneath the surface. it was very hard to construct generalizations. of the stories could not just be about them because they didn't live lives in isolation, but also had to be about americans and about how americans would receive these people, what they thought about them and that was a tricky thing to get. but it was important because
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there was a sense and which these individuals were playing to the american people always. they were putting on the performances that they knew were going to be looked at and observed. and they wanted to be sure that the american people got it right which meant getting it the way they saw it. it's what americans thought of these individuals and why they thought they did. so there was a might -- nice short book. i was just about finished writing it when something extraordinary happened. that is at a phenomenal rate. materialized in new york city
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which called itself occupy and wall street. it highlighted a concern that some americans had for something that has been true of our collective existence from the very beginning. that is that we have a great interest in fondness for the rich. that is true. we are also an intensely and deeply space people in terms of our ideals and by democracy here i am referring to what tocqueville described as equality of condition, and he found a higher level of equality of condition in america than
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anyplace she had any knowledge john oberst. he also discovered that indeed americans like money. thinking about it and talking about it how did you take these to to things that logically are in conflict with one another if you are going to treasurer ecology how do you simultaneously treasure the rich? is there a paradox if keith will broadly speaking it is a small book that i wrote and along comes. some americans have decided that we are in a place now where it is not possible to reconcile for
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wealth with a love of democracy and equality that in effect one needs to choose and that it's terribly important that you choose. most americans in the were comfortable enough with the paradox, and one of the things that made them particularly comfortable with the paradox is the fact that in these very rich people had given away so much money. it seemed to be a way in which they embraced the quality and democracy. so there was that resolution of the paradox and here was occupied and wall street and of these people were saying no, no, this is indeed a conflict and
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it's a conflict that can't be resolved. in the nation that we must choose, these people have chosen the quality and meant to take their stand. as the summer and fall and early winter of that year progressed, people kept saying what are these people going to do about this, what are they going to do? how is the movement going to function and who is going to lead? the reality is none of those things happened. they demonstrated, they got a tremendous amount of coverage in the press, but they themselves never organized it as a movement. ..
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mented an election in spite of the fact that he faced an organized and highly well-financed opposing campaign, and so it suggests, as the appearance of wall street, occupy wall street itself did, that this is a story that
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suddenly had acquired great urgency. i had to not end it where i thought i was going to end it with john d. rockefeller and all those shiny dimes that all those people put on the stairs to his future rail monument, but i had to carry it forward to where we are now, so the book grew a little longer. i did my best to keep it short and succinct, but in the process of doing this, i workedded closely with two things that bear examination for a variety of reasons. one of them was the "forbes" magazine's richest 400 published every year, and that is a fascinating source of information. it's -- it's designed to speak among other things to our
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fondness for the rich. the information itself is conveyed in essentially what is a sell -- celebrateed mode, and this was has z -- as the economy turned decisively south by something bill gates and warren buffet decided to do with the giving pledge. the giving pledge is interesting because it worked largely, the two men worked largely with the "forbes" 200 list in the beginning and the goal was to get people to pledge, in forming an illegal character of the pledge, to give away half their fortunes for the purposes of making the world a better place to live, and, basically, that
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meant philanthropy. well, it got a lot of press at the time, and the "forbes" 400 editors paid a fair amount of attention to it, and in the years sense, the three or four years sense then, the number of people who have embraced signed in effect the pledge has grown to somewhere less than a hundred , but it's grown up, and it is a significant phenomena. for my purposes, what was wonderful, the one thing to do if you signed the pledge now was provide a brief description of your thoughts on wealth and
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philanthropy so it was part of the giving pledge website so here is a whole bunch of material about very rich individuals, how they felt about their money, and how they felt about being philanthropic, giving away, giving back as the phrase goes, a lot of that money, and so these were all things that had to be added cot caldron, and that's what i did in the later part of the book, and if you want to know how the story turns out, you will, i hope, read the book. [laughter] because i can honestly say that as it flowed from my black no. 2 pencil on the yellow pad, i was surprised now and then by
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conclusions i reached, by some of the conclusions i think other people would reach putting these things together, and i think that the result is a book that in interesting ways, don't contradict the first part of the book as i wrote it, but does add to it in ways that make it a deeper, richer, more complicate ed study -- complicated study, and that pleases me about it. it amazes me the reaction of critics to the book because it's been moderately well reviewed except that liberals who read it
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think it's too conservative. those conservatives who read it think it's too liberal. [laughter] which at least verifies the fact that it's an interesting book, and it's a book that there's a variety of opinions about. i'm a historian, and i was writing history, and one of the cannons in writing history is it should not be primarily about your political -- your political ideas and your political values, so i -- i purposely intruded on the subject, not all that much. i have my own sense of where the book stands on some sort of political spectrum you construct, and i'm not telling you what that is either because
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you can find out for yourselves when you read the book. i will say that several things in the course of writing it became clear to me. one of them was that i found the rich truly interesting, truly interesting for how they made their money. i found them truly interesting for how they did worry about it being a well represented democracy. it was not a question they sought to avoid, at least the people i was writing about, and they, i think, looked for ways to try and resolve that paradox, and whether they did, well, it's interesting that they tried. the other thing is to get back to what i said earlier about the american people. i think that you could fairly
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say these individuals to the satisfaction of most of their fellow countrymen did succeed through their generosity in resolving the paradox. that's nice that they feel that way. i mean, that's a good thing. that they managed the people who think about such issues, that manage to find a kind of resolution here. the question that i addressed at the very end of the imook and this, i think, is terribly important question, and, again, if you want to find the answer to it, you need to read the book, and the question is this, were these individuals, these very rich individuals who were so very generous, how typical
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were they of the american rich? i think we have a tendency to assume that they were typical, and that that's important. that's important to our view of ourselves, to our democratic values, but it is a question that can be answered with substantive evidence, not conclusively, but there is enough evidence to make, i think, a considered judgment about that, which, in fact, i do, but you'll have to read the book to find out what it is. [laughter] what that judgment was. it's an important issue because if we feel they were typical, it goes a long way or could be imagined to go a long way
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towards resolving, making less impaletteble, making -- making you feel better about what is, at this moment in our history, and this has changed through the years, up and down, but what is demon -- demonstrateble high unequality in this time, more than any other time, and this particular interpretation of the very rich that they are as a group very generous, might help make that, as i said, more pal let -- paletteble or less troubled -- troubling, but, you know, that's
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, again, something open to historical interpretation and it's also open to other interpretation, and we can know that, and if that's a question that occurs to you as an interesting one, i present a certain amount of evidence in the book on that question. now, to end, i wonder what those people putting those dimes on rockefeller's monument thought about these things. is this a way of saying, thank you, yes, we're all in the same boat, we can be generous too? we can even be generous to you because you were generous to us, or is this a kind of snide way of saying, well, you were john
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d. rockefeller, and you tried to win our affections with thin dime, and you can have your thin dimes back because you have not persuaded us that you were such a good man after all. probably people put those dimes there thinking one or the other of those things. now, it would be nice, of course, if you could be there observing over a period of time the people who did this, and snuck up to them afterwards and say, just what was on your mind when you laid those dimes on those steps? of course, you can't do that, so you are left, as you always are with historical evidence, with the need of interpreting it, and in a way, that's what i was doing in this book. i had great fun doing it. i it great fun doing it because
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to my mind, it is an intriguing subject because at various times, it is loomed so large in the conscious. americans generally value the rich for their contribution to american life. there was a gallup poll done last spring which asked whether or not the united states benefited from having a small class of very rich people without adding more gloss on the question than the words i've given you. 63% of the people who responded thought that we were better off for having a very small class of very rich people. that, alone, is evidence. that bubbles around in the same -- caldron that the rest of these things do in the book, and if
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you do read it, i hope you enjoy it. i hope that it persuades you, but then, of course, the question will remain, what did it persuade you of? [laughter] which has a lot to do, really more to do, i think, with what you think and what you bring to the book than what i put there. in any case, i would be happy to answer any questions you have and look forward to doing so. i remind you that they want you to come to the microphone and ask questions there. don't let that put you off. it's easy to do, and i really would welcome your questions. [applause] yes?
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>> this is a two-part question. the larger part is if you drew a bright line of wealth in today's dollars, below the "forbes'" 4 400, a billion for example, and of the people who have wealth north ever -- of a billion dollars, what percent fall into the category of good rich in the sense of sharing their wealth, and what consent falls into the not so good bucket, and whatever the percentage is, how does that compare today with what it's been throughout our history? >> both good questions. both good questions. there's been studies done of the philanthropic giving of rich people which suggests that
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somewhere between 40 and 30% of the very rich are generous with their money, notably generous with their money. the others seem not to be, and what do they spend money on? well, look at "architectural digest," and they make sure their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren have what they consider to be decent lives. as far as putting this on a timeline, it has varied. i mean, there's no doubt about that. i mean, put it this way. you've had that inequality that i talked about has varied, and it was highest in recent history in the 1890s, in the 1920s, and
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both of those decades were followed by periods of pretty radical, far reaching reform, and i think that political fact or the two political facts together, the existence of that level of inequality and the response to it politically says that we are capable of being around this subject, says that the rich mostly responded in ways that have made most americans comfortable with their existence. that's not always been so. that's not always been so. another interesting fact is that philanthropic giving among the
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rich dropped notably in the recent financial crisis. if you had a program of philanthropic giving in mind, then the market went down as far as it did and in 2007, 2008, you were still very, very rich, very rich, and ought it to have been -- ought it to have had that kind of impact on philanthropic giving? well, it suggests a bunch of things. i mean, it suggests that they have to do it and how they are
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going to do it. it suggests that crisis, that financial crisis shook the rich as just as it did us. of course, we also know that their assets dropped less in value than the wealth of average americans, and we also know that the drop that occurred was recovered upon more quickly among them and other people. does that answer your question? >> yes, thank you. >> okay. >> when you mentioned the 400 and the giving pledge, i noticed that, if my recollection is correct, that steve jobs, for
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example, did not sign that pledge, as did, i think oprah was one of them, didn't sign the pledge -- >> right, and i talked about them in the book. >> then i'll have to read it. [laughter] but what my question, really is is that people -- is the category of good rich only those people who participate in philanthropy, or the good rich also for people for what they do or what they have invented to make our lives better? >> your question is good, and i think your answer is a good one. it is possible to get off the hook, to get off the hook of being rich and make us love you any way even if you aren't philanthropic, and, certainly, steve jobs is an example of doing that. he not only did not give. he scorned giving and said that
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most people were simply doing it to buff up their reputations, and he was not going to be involved in playing that kind of game. there was a lot of adverse comment during his life about the fact that he was so ungenerous. oprah was different in the sense that she was philanthropic, is philanthropically inclined, but she didn't sign the pledge either and made a point of not signing the pledge. what does this say about her? well, i think both she and jobs could be comfortable with the fact that they had enormous mus- enormous numbers of americans who admired them sufficiently for what they did, what they actually did that they didn't have to worry about these
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issues, but inventing marvelous new pieces of technology that ordinary americans use in their lives or day after day after day listening to people on your shows describe their lives, the tragedies of their lives, the triumphs of their lives in ways that make the information accessible for which americans did, and those were things that were cited of significant value so that they could be treasured in their own right. it's not so easy to find things that you can do that in and of themselves are going to make you loved. you know, is there anything that
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investment bankers do in the nature of what they do that is calculated to make americans love them? well, i don't know. you can be of two minds about that, i suppose, but the fact is that the achievement of your average investment banker aren't going to be as appealing as an ipad or as an iphone, and so it does depend on what you do. you can win in effect without having to do the conventional thing, what has become a conventional things, yes, it can happen, and there are examples where it has. in a general way, it happens whenever people point to the rich and say, well, their rich,
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and they're perhaps too rich, but they are great job creators. well, yes and no. some of them own companies, manage companies where large numbers of of jobs have been shipped overseas or where job creation is not necessarily what actually happens that, as we know, by looking at what bain capital did that a lot of times success involves eliminating jobs, not creating them; though, you say you eliminate other jobs and create others in the process, and that's true, and it goes on and on and round and round. these are not issues that i took a stand on in the book because i left it for my readers to do
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that. >> you mentioned there was no -- you couldn't find any real correlations between the rich and what they did, their lives, they seemed to be -- there was not anything that stood out that one group was totally different than the other, and i'm curious, how about their politics? what was their -- was there any correlation in the political persuasion? >> they tended to be conservative, but not consistently enough so that you can -- i mean, one of the people i discuss in the book, again, is george washington. the richest president we ever had, perhaps, the richest person
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in america at the time he was president. you wouldn't describe the politics as conservative, i think, and in the scheme of at least world politics. >> and i was also curious, like, what did a person like steve jobs do with his money since he didn't give it away? >> he put it back into his company, and he, i'm sure, set up large trusts for his children -- >> such a huge amount. >> a huge amount of money. i kept wondering whether after he died the time was going to come when we were going to be surprised because it was going ton revealed that after all he was generous, just didn't make noise about it. while, i think by now the estate has been probated now, and if
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there was anything, we'd know, and it doesn't look like there was anything, and is that a bad thing? he very self-consciously explapped what he thought about philanthropy which was that it was not really about benefiting the world at large or other people. it was really about buffing up the reputations of the people who were philanthropic, and you can say that. it was very often part of the motivation that lay behind philanthropic giving. could you say it was always there? i think it was always there in some measure, but the measure varies. john d. rockefeller, extraordinarily rich man, his first year in business in
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cleveland came close to tithing and he got upset because he couldn't tithe fully. every year after that, he did. in other words, he was philanthropic from the get-go, before he had a reputation for being an evil man that he needed to buff up. that's true of -- i talk about the brothers in boston. that was the first agreed industrial, american industrial force. the older of the two brothers also was philanthropic from the get-go, and some people are, and one gathers that, you know, as i said, motives vary here, responses vary, and there are agents that are interesting, and i think they are significant. yes? can you tell us, bob, what you
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have brewing next? >> yes, i'd be happy to do it because i trust ul -- i'll be back here in a few years. [laughter] it's always a pleasure to come. i am writing a novel, which is a wonderful experience for me about george washington, and i get to do two things in the novel. i get to have washington, martha, the circle of people around them which had grown constantly larger, and what they do during those years, and that's the first thing. the second thing is i get to give the reader snapshots of george washington and martha washington as well reflecting upon events in the past and what they met and how they see them
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now after a period of time. now, it is at that point that the book becomes truly fiction and not history, and why am i doing this? well, because i'd always thought it would be fun to write a novel, but, you know, asking myself why? what makes it fun is that it enables you to do something you cannot do as a historian, and that is go beyond the evidence, go beyond existing evidence on paper or whatever, and say what you think was really going on in these people's lives and what nay were thinking, and it's such fun because if you know individuals well enough, and i feel i do know george washington very well, throughout the book we wrote together about him, there it is.
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you feel in some sense that you know it, but you can't prove it. well, if you write history. people will say they make claims and statements, and many of them are not true. well, you don't say that about a novel. [laughter] you can't say that about a novel. that's what i'm doing, and i'm having a wonderful time doing it. it's like having a very good dessert. [laughter] i -- and it's -- it's terrific fun. will the novel ever be published? i have no way of knowing. it's an interesting thing. when you write a piece of history and you want to get it published, what you do is you put together a proposal, which is an outline of the book, a few statements about why you think it's important and a chapter or
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two, and on that basis, your agent sells the book, you hope, to a publisher who then decides to publish it. when i told her i was writing a novel and if she would read it, she said she'd be happy to, but you have to understand publishers don't take first novels on a few good chapters. you have to finish the story. that's what the publisher's going to want to see. i don't know. i have no contracts yet to publish this, and who knows, but like i said, i'm having great fun with it. [applause]
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>> this system of deep incarceration is so deeply rooted in our social, political, and economic structure that it's not just going to fade away or downsize out of sight without a major upheaval, a fairy radical shift in the public consciousness. now, i know that there's many people today who will say, oh, you know, there's no hope of ending mass incarceration in america. no, no, there's no hope. pick another issue. just as many people were resigned to jim crow in the south and said, yeah, yeah, it's a shame, it's a shame, but that's just the way that it is. i find that so many people today view the millions cycling in and out of our prisons and jails today as just an unfortunate,
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but inalterable fact of american life. well, i'm quite certain that dr. king would not have been so resigned. i believe that if we are truly, truly to honor dr. king, if we are to ever catch up with king, we have got to be willing to continue his work. we have got to be willing to go back and pick up where he left off and do the hard work of movement building on behalf of poor people of all colors. in 1968, dr. king told advocates that the time had come to transition from his civil rights movement to a human rights movement. meaningful equality was not to be achieved through civil rights alone without basic human rights, the right to work, the right to shelter, the right to quality education, without basic human rights, he said, civil
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rights are an empty promise, so in honor of dr. king and all of those who labored to end the old jim crow, i hope we'll commit ourselves to building a human rights movement to end mass incarceration, a movement of education, not inv. cation, a movement for jobs, not jails, a movement to end all these forms of legal discrimination against people, discrimination that denies them basic human rights to work, to shelter, to food. now, what must we do to begin this movement? well, first i believe we got to begin by telling the truth, the whole truth, and admit out loud that we as a nation created a cap-like system in this country. we got to be willing to tell the truth in the schools, in our churches, in our places of worship, behind bars, and in
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reentry centers. we've got to be willing to tell this truth so that a great awakening to the reality of what has occurred can come to pass because the reality is is that this new cap-like system doesn't come with signs. there are no whites only signs anymore. there are no signs alerting us to the existence of the system of mass incarceration, and prisons today, they are out of sight and out of mind. often they are hundreds of miles away from communities and families that might otherwise be connected to them. the people who cycle in and out of the prisons typically live in segregated, impoverished communities, communities that middle class folks, upper middle class folks rarely come across. you can live your whole life in american today having no idea
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that this system of mass incarceration and the harm it reeks even exists. we have got to be willing to tell the truth for what i have occurred. pull back the cur tap and make visible what's hidden in plain sight so that an awakening can begin, and people can begin to take the kind of creative, constructive action that this moment in our history surely requires, but, of course, just a lot of talk and consciousness raising suspect going to -- isn't going to be enough. we have got to be willing to get to work, and in my view, we have to be willing to build an underground railroad for people released from prison, an underground railroad for people who want a break for real freedom, people who want to escape this system and find work, find shelter, be able to
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support their families, find a true freedom in america today. we have got to be willing to open our homes, open our schools, open our workplaces to people returning home from prison and provide safe spaces of support for the families who have loved ones behind bars today. how do we create these safe places? well, one thing we can certainly do, we can begin to admit our own criminality out loud, our own criminality because the truth is we all made mistakes in our lives, we all have, all of us are sinners, all of us have done wrong, all of us have broken the law at some point in our lives. if you're an adult, you've broken the law at some point in your life. now, i find that some people say, oh, yeah, i'm a sinner, i
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made mistakes, but don't call me a criminal. don't call me a criminal. i say, okay, maybe you never drank underage. maybe you never experimented with drugs. well, if the worst thing you've done in your entire life is be ten miles over the speed limit on the freeway, you've put yourself and others at more risk of harm than someone smoking marijuana in a privacy of their living room, but there are people in the united states serving life sentences for first time drug offenses, life sentences. the u.s. supreme court upheld life sentences for first time drug offenders against an 8th amendment sentence that such punishments were crew and unusual, and the supreme court said, no, it's not cruel and unusual to sentence a young man to life imprisonment for first time drug offense even though in other country in the world does
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such a thing. we've got to end the idea that the criminals are them, not us. instead, say, there but for the grace of god go i. all of us have made mystics in our lives, taken wrong turns, but only some of us have been required to pay for those mistakes for the rest of our lives. in fact, president barack obama, himself, admitted to a little more than drug use in his lifetime. he's admitted to using marijuana and cocaine in his youth, and if he had not been raised by white grandparents in hawaii, if he hadn't done much of his drug use on white campuses and universities, if he had been raised in the hood, the odds are good that he would have been stopped, he would have been frisked, he would have been searched, he would have been caught, and far from being president of the united states
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today, he might not even have the right to vote depending on the state he lives in. watch in and other programs online at booktv.org. >> here's the latest headlines
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surrounding the publishing industry this week:
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>> up next, frank easterbrook presents the book, "saving justice," and nine on "after words," author of "fast future: how the generation is shaping our world" sits down, and mary robertson talks about "everybody mas"